Travel Credit Cards
These are my personal favorite credit cards to earn points and miles towards free travel. I did not list ever single card and promotion, but you are able to see them all on the Promotions page of this blog.
- My Thoughts: I use this card for all airline purchases since it gives me 3 points per dollar. I actually only have the business version of the card, and is my g0-to-card for all gas spend since I get 2 points per dollar. The Premier Rewards Gold card gives 2 points per dollar on gasoline at US stand-alone gas stations and groceries at U.S. stand-alone supermarkets, so this is a great card to spend for those items. This card is part of the Membership Rewards program, which has unfortunately lost many partners in the past few years. However, they do still have Delta and British Airways and there are many times some amazing promotions when transferring your points to these two loyalty partners. Just recently I transferred about half of my Membership Reward points to British Airways to take advantage of the 50% transfer bonus.
- Current Promotion: American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card – Earn 25,000 Membership Rewards® points when you spend $2K during your first three months of Card membership; Earn 15K points after when you spend $30,000 within one calendar year; The Business Gold Rewards Card® from American Express OPEN- Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $5,000 during your first three months of Card membership.
- Other Perks: American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card – Earn 3X points for flights booked with airlines, 2X points at US gas stations and US supermarkets, 1X points on other purchases;. The Business Gold Rewards Card® from American Express OPEN – 3x points on airfare, 2x points on purchases in the U.S. for advertising in select media, gasoline at U.S. stand-alone stations, and shipping, and 1x point on all other purchases
- Annual Fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $175
- My Thoughts: This is 1 of my 2 go-to-cards for everyday spend. This card earns Chase Ultimate Reward points and I personally love that I can transfer my points for no fee to British Airways (to use on domestic American Airline flights), United, and Hyatt. There are other transfer opportunities, but those are my top three. I also use this card for all dining and hotel l purchases as the card gives 2 points per dollar. The only time I do not use this card for hotel spend is when I am staying at a Marriott and use my Marriott Chase credit card instead. I also use this card on all international travel as there are no foreign transaction fees. The best thing about Ultimate Reward points is that you can freely transfer them to another person’s UR account or loyalty program account. If a friend or family member has only a Chase Freedom account, they can transfer their points to you and then you can transfer them into their loyalty program (read more about this here).
- Current Promotion: 40,000 points for new applicants after spending $3,000 within the first three months.
- Other Perks: 2x points on all dining, airfare, and hotels. 7% annual bonus on all points earned throughout the year including the 40,000 point bonus.
- Annual Fee: $95/year, but waived the first year.
- My Thoughts: This is my other go-to-card for everyday spend. I highly value Starwood points and love their properties. Although you only earn 1 point per dollar on almost all spend (except Starwood stays), each SPG point is very valuable as they do not require as many points for a free night. I also love the cash and points option to redeem a free night. A free night at SPG will require about half the number of points at Marriott or Hilton for the same caliber hotel (if not better). Starwood and Hyatt have about the same value in my book, and most of my Chase Ultimate Reward points will most likely be transferred to Hyatt. So for the spend that will only get me 1 point per dollar, the card I use depends on if I am looking to increase my Starwood or Hyatt balance. Starwood should also be used for your every day spend over the airline earning credit cards (except United), as you’ll earn the same 1 point per dollar, however, with the SPG program, you can transfer your points 1:1 to MANY participating airlines. So this means you’re Starwood points are much more flexible and are not locked into one airline program. You also get a 5,000 bonus Starpoints after you transfer 20,000 Starpoints to a frequent flyer program with more than 20 airlines. You can read more about this great benefit here.
- Current Promotion: Earn up to 25,000 bonus points – 10,000 after your first purchase and another 15,000 after you spend $5,000 within the first 6 months of Cardmembership
- Other Perks: 2 stays/5 nights towards elite status yearly. Double points on Starwood hotel spend.
- Annual Fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $65
- My Thoughts: This was my most recent card I got and I love it! It is part of the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, and similar to the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, points can be transferred to some great loyalty programs. I now get 5 points per dollar on all telecommunication costs (internet, cell phone, home phone, etc.). If those costs are high for you, get this card asap! While I do not spend too much on these costs, my parents, for example, spend probably close to $400/month, so this is a total of 24,000 points a year, or a free domestic plane ticket! My expenses in this category are actually very minimal, so it does not impact me as much. Additionally, I just started taking advantage of the 5 points per dollar at office supply stores. Many stores, i.e, Staples and Office Depot sell gift cards where you can then use elsewhere. You will receive 5 points per dollar on those gift card purchases as well! Office Depot even sells Amex gift cards, so this will allow you to get 5 points per dollar on your every day spend! The best redemption is purchasing the reloadable cards and loading them onto an American Express prepaid card – read this post to fully understand.
- Current Promotion: 50,000 points after you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months
- Other Perks: Double points on gas and hotel; 5 times points on business spend.
- Annual Fee: $95/year, but waived the first year.
- My Thoughts: This is a great no-fee card to have! While the points earned from this card cannot be transferred directly to partner loyalty programs, you can currently transfer your points to a friend/family member who has a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink Bold card and then have them transfer those points to your loyalty program account (learn more about this roundabout method here). It is a great way to avoid an annual fee and still get the perks! You can also get 5x points on quarterly rotating categories. This card should be used for all spend during the 5x points duration, but keep in mind you are capped at $1,500 per category. A great card to supplement the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Bold.
- Current Promotion: 10,000 points after spending $500 in 3 months.
- Other Perks: 5x points on this quarterly categories in 2013:
January-March: Gas Stations, Drugstores, Starbucks
April-June: Restaurants, Movie theaters, and Lowe’s®
July-September: Gas stations, Theme Parks, Kohl’s
October-December: Amazon.com, Select department stores
- My Thoughts: Since I stay at Marriott properties a bunch (however, I used to more 7 years ago when I got the card), this one gives me 5 points per dollar on my spend at Marriott. The reason why I have kept this card and paid the annual fee every year is that I get a free night (category 1-5) upon annual account renewal. This means that for $85/year, I get a free night (which I’ve gotten at least a $150 value out of yearly) and 15 nights towards status annually. There are also many promotions throughout the year, where if you spend a certain amount on your card you’ll get free nights or bonus points. Since this is one of the older cards in my wallet, I absolutely do not want to get rid of it, and am happy that the benefits outweigh the cost of the annual fee immensely. I will admit though, I do not use this card for any other spend as I am currently trying to accrue points in other hotel programs. I also value 1 Ultimate Reward or Starwood point over 1 Marriott point.
- Current Promotion: 50,000 Marriott points for new applicants after spending $1,000 on the card within the first three months and1 free award night (category 1-4). Free night (category 1-5) upon annual account renewal.
- Other Perks: 5 Marriott points per dollar spent at Marriott hotels. 2 Marriott points per dollar spent on dining, air, and rental cars. No foreign transaction fees. 15 nights towards status annually (silver status).
- Annual Fee: Introductory offer is $0 for the first year, than $85/year
- Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Visa Signature application link
- Chase Marriott Rewards Visa Signature application link (this card has less perks, but only $45 annual fee)
- Marriott Rewards Credit Card Overview
Disclaimer: Some of the techniques to earn free travel involve applying for credit cards. The reader is solely responsible for the decisions he/she makes regarding their own credit.